Released: 2004, Century Media
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Turisas is yet another new Finnish band to recently sign with Century Media. Warlord Nygår and Jussi Wickström formed the band 1997 in a small town in the heart of the pagan forest of South/Mid Finland called Hämeenlinna. The town was named after an ancient Finnish war god. The first recording the band ever did was called TAISTON TIE (THE BATTLE PATH) but is still unreleased because of the poor sound quality. The plans are that it will never be released. In 2000 they released the demo THE HEART OF TURISAS, which led to different labels showing interest in them. Finally in 2003 Century Media signed the band and pre-production of BATTLE METAL began.
The recording of most of BATTLE METAL was done in Sound Track Studio in France by Terje Refsnes (Tristania, Enslaved, Gehenna) in December of 2003. Vocals, choirs, pipes, acoustic guitars and percussion were done in Steel Track Studio and percussion was recorded in Sound Suite Studios, both in Finland. BATTLE METAL was finished in the spring of 2004. The production and soundscape sound really complex and varied to say the least. BATTLE METAL includes twelve songs but I don’t know who’s written the music or lyrics. Most of the songs are sung in English, except for two done in Finnish.
Of their brand of music, Nygår says that the “audience for our kind of folk/heathen/battle metal has grown enormously within the past few years and I think the timing for the release of our debut album is nothing but perfect.” Maybe that’s true in Finland but not here in Sweden.
Well, how does this Finnish band sound then? I agree with Nygår on his description of what kind of music they play. It is a mix of folk/heathen/pagan music blended with metal. Turisas use the occasionally odd instrument in their music, such as accordion, violin, piano, Hammond organ, tambourine, congos and bongos to mention a few. Vocal-wise they use different styles like alto, soprano, female vocals, a big choir and a lots of metal vocals. So you see, this album is quite different. Nygår has a metal voice that fits the music but when he sings with an ordinary voice it doesn’t work as well.
To these ears, BATTLE METAL sounds like it comes from Finland. The Fins have a certain flair for mixing up their music with different elements and I don’t think that many bands in Sweden would dream of doing music this way. Turisas just go their own way. Like it says in the biographical note: “Music should not be about genres, it’s about creating atmospheres”. Unfortunately, Turisas put too many different musical elements into their music and I only get confused when I’m trying to sort out the content. I think it’s going to be hard for the band to achieve success outside Finland because this music is too complex.
I don’t have any favorite songs amongst the 12, since all of them float together in a constant blur. To quote the biographical note: “The battle is just to begin so grab your sword and join the ranks of Turisas marching for war!” Sorry guys, I don’t think anybody outside of Finland will be marching in your ranks.